But Fitch didn’t plan it that way. Somewhere in her house is a box filled with hundreds of pages of a weighty historical novel that, in a fit of decisiveness following months of dread, she decided to abandon in the middle of a photo shoot for that book’s jacket cover.
"When you have success, people think you know what you’re doing, and you start to agree with them, you think you can conquer the world," she said. "But you go from grandiosity to panic. My editor would call and I’d say ‘It’s fine, going great,’ and I couldn’t bring myself to admit it wasn’t happening. It was an abortion."
Fitch was then forced to tearfully admit to her editors that, after having twice written the 300-page book using two different narrators, she still didn’t have anything that she was proud of. For a mid-list author with few expectations for big sales figures, that might not have mattered. But "White Oleander" was a blockbuster, one of the bestselling new works of literary fiction that year. It had been adapted as a movie starring Renée Zellweger and Michelle Pfeiffer. Janet Fitch was a bankable name. Michael Pietsch, who edited "White Oleander" for Little, Brown, had to adjust his time frame once again. "She sent the manuscript to us, and I think she arrived at the right decision," he said. "I was sad for Janet because all that time and work must have been a great loss. But I was very grateful that she had the maturity and self-assessment to put that aside. It’s the process that brought us ‘Paint It Black,’ and I’m glad it happened so that we have this book."
That takes some guts. (Via TEV.)